The exhausted captain collapsed to her knees in front of him, heavy gasps shaking her entire frame. She remained in that position for a moment, glazed eyes staring into space absently. The wind whipped around her, the rain beating down on her mercilessly, soaking her to the bone and washing away the blood from her armour. The droplets slid off of the metal easily and he found himself mesmerised by a particular drop slowly making its way down her chest.
"Hey..." he groaned. "Ah shit that hurts."
Without warning, she slammed her fists onto the ground, churning the muddy waters pooling around her body as the torrential downpour continued.
"You…idiot," she hissed, eyes hidden by the red locks plastered to her face.
Her fingers curled around the sticky mud, leaving deep marks on the ground and he stared at her wordlessly. She shifted her weight slightly and he saw the tears on her face even with all the rain. At that moment, she looked so fragile, with her lower lip trembling ever so slightly as she swallowed her sobs.
He sat up and rolled over onto his knees. A pang of pain shot up his chest and he grabbed at the wound there, head reeling. Taking a large gulp of air, he smiled weakly. "I'm sorry."
He could see the soldier behind her, sword raised and ready to strike. She was busy fending off two others from the front, unaware of the imminent danger behind her.
"Erza!" His scream pierced the air but she did not acknowledge his cry, too preoccupied with her attackers.
The world seemed to slow down as his body moved instinctively. His dagger spun through the air before embedding itself into the soldier's forehead. He could hear the pounding in his ears, feel the adrenaline rushing through his veins and he reached up for one of his staves from his back, his grip tightening around the solid wood. He made to move to her, his eyes never leaving her form when he felt the cold steel penetrate into his chest.
The force of the arrow propelled him backwards and he stumbled back, eyes wide in disbelief.
He could hear her scream echoing in his ears as she screamed his name over and over again.
A shaky hand extended towards the protruding arrow and with a heave, he pulled the offending weapon out, gasping at the pain spreading through his chest. The blood slowly filled his mouth and he coughed, sending the crimson liquid splattering all over his bandaged torso.
"So stupid," she said through gritted teeth as she tried to control her emotions. "Why'd you try to save me?"
"Because I had to," he murmured in reply. "I can't lose you."
She made an indignant noise at the back of her throat. "God, Jellal…"
She lapsed into silence and he crawled over to her. "Erza…come on, it's over."
She ignored him and his outstretched hand reached over to caress her face. She turned away before he could touch her, eyes still brimming with angry tears. He struggled to his feet. "It's alright, everything's alright," he said assuredly. "Erza…everything's fine."
The tingling sensation in his chest drew his attention, his fingers tracing at the hole where the magically infused arrow had pierced through his armour. The blood had soaked through the bandages underneath his armour but the colour had been diluted by the pouring rain. In fact, the cold had completely numbed the pain.
The sudden squelching of mud signaled the arrival of someone new.
Laxus limped over to where the two of them were. With a pained sigh, he stopped behind her silently, staring down at her kneeling form.
Hesitating for a split second, she stumbled to her feet unsteadily, legs shaking from the effort.
"Erza," Jellal whispered once more.
The female suddenly launched herself at him, eyes glistening with tears. He took a step back in shock, the sheer intensity in her eyes overwhelming him. He knew that placing himself in harm's way was stupid and reckless but the mixture of anger and raw pain still surprised him.
She lunged at him, arms outstretched, eyes burning with fury as she let loose a string of obscenities when a strong arm wrapped around her chest, puling her away from him.
Erza struggled against Laxus, screaming and howling in pain. Her tears had run dry but Jellal could see the hurt written all over her face.
"I'm sorry," he cried out, desperately trying to console her. "I won't do it again, ok?"
He was lying of course. He would do it over and over again if it meant that she was safe.
"You stupid, selfish son of a bitch! You told me, you promised me, that you would be safe!" She fought against the blond's grip. "Why'd you go and do something so stupid?"
Laxus grunted with the effort. "Erza, stop. Stop."
Jellal took another step forward. He didn't know what to say. He had expected her to be angry and to maybe scream at him but he had never imagined that he could have hurt her so badly. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "I'm sorry."
With one last heave, Erza broke free of Laxus and ran towards him.
His eyes widened as she passed through him. He turned around in shock as she fell to her knees, fists pounding his chest, his lifeless body on the ground.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"No," he breathed. "No, I'm sorry."
That was all he could say.